NASA names new date for Crew Dragon’s first four-astronaut launch

NASA has announced a new launch date for its Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) operated in partnership with SpaceX.

Following several changes to the schedule in recent months, the space agency is now targeting 4:49 p.m. PT on Saturday, November 14 for lift-off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The launch is notable for being the first operational crewed flight using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft following its first successful human test flight to and from the ISS last summer with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on board. The mission was also significant for being the first astronaut launch from U.S. soil since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.

Traveling aboard the Crew Dragon on November 14 will be NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, together with Soichi Noguchi from Japan’s space agency.

The astronauts will join the Expedition 64 crew of Commander Sergey Ryzhikov, and Flight Engineers Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, who arrived at the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on October 14.

“The arrival of Crew-1 will increase the regular crew size of the space station’s expedition missions from six to seven astronauts, adding to the amount of crew time available for research,” NASA said in a release.

The Crew-1 mission has faced multiple delays in recent months. NASA had originally hoped to launch the four astronauts on August 30, but that slipped to September, and then to October 23. It was moved again to October 31,  with NASA saying at the time that the new date would allow it to avoid any potential conflict with another ISS-bound Soyuz MS-17 mission set for the middle of October (with Rubins and the two Russian cosmonauts on board).

But on October 12, NASA pushed the launch to “no sooner than early-to-mid November” to give SpaceX more time to sort out an issue with Falcon 9 first-stage engine gas generators that came to light during a recent non-NASA launch effort.

With the issue now apparently resolved, NASA has been able to set a new launch date for next month. But the later departure means the four astronauts will be on terra firma, rather than in space, for the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence on the ISS on November 2.

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